LAS software parses names

Finding Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan has proven difficult. Finding his name in millions of records written in Arabic, Chinese, or Russian could prove even harder.

But Language Analysis Systems (LAS) Inc. is developing a product called LAS NameTransliterator that can intelligently search names and their spelling variations across databases containing documents written in foreign languages.

That could be vital to federal law enforcement and intelligence officials investigating and analyzing terrorists, criminals and others, and searching for their names, across information provided by foreign governments. It could also help the commercial sector in authenticating identity and background checks as well as aid in thwarting money laundering efforts. NameTransliterator could also help airline support industries officials comb through databases to compare criminals and terrorists against government watch lists.

Herndon, Va.-based LAS, which provides name-recognition technologies to various federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, will release the product in the third quarter of this year. Chief executive officer Jack Hermansen said the company is beta testing the tool with the federal government, but he could not say more than that.

There were two significant drivers that pushed the company to develop the technology. First, although most of the text on the Internet was written in English up until a few years ago, that's not the case anymore. Now, the majority of material is available in other languages. Officials in the government and commercial sectors saw a need to search across such widely available information. Second, ASCII -

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